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The online catalogue does not include details of all our collections. Contact the relevant branch for information relating to collections which have paper and card indexes.

N is for Ness Point

Everyone has heard of Land’s End and John O’Groats, but no one ever shouts about Ness Point the most easterly point of the British Isles.  Instead of being promoted as the unique geographical feature it is, Ness Point is hidden away behind the factories and industrial units off Whapload Road in Lowestoft.  It might not be the prettiest location in the county but we, the people of Suffolk, need to stand up and proudly proclaim Lowestoft as the home of the most easterly point and work to put Ness Point back on the map.

There have been various schemes over the years to mark the Ness, including glass sails, the two schemes shown here date from 1988 and 1993, but so far, this geographical location is only marked by a circular stone plaque, known as the Euroscope and the tallest wind turbine in the UK, known locally as Gulliver.

I is for Island

Havergate Island

Havergate Island

Havergate Island is the only island in Suffolk and can be found at the meeting of the Rivers Ore and Butley near Orford.  The island was walled for land reclamation over 500 years ago and was used for arable land and grazing until the 1930s.  The trade directories show the gradual decline in population from 6 people in 1861 down to 2 in 1921.

A gravel company tried to establish a shingle extraction operation in 1933 but this proved unprofitable and the island was deserted until the Second World War when the military took it over along with Orford Ness.  Parts of the island were flooded with salt water over the next few years making it unsuitable for future agricultural use.

After the war it was found that avocets had bred on the island and raised a number of chicks.  This was the first time they’d been found in the UK since going extinct over 100 years before.  The RSPB purchased the island in 1948 and it has been a Nature Reserve since then. It is most famous for its avocets, terns and spoonbills.

F is for Field

It’s always lovely to find interesting entries when preparing and adding information to our online catalogues and here are two 18th century marriage licences that made us smile: one appropriately named Edward Field, a farmer of the parish of Woodbridge (FAA23/34/224) and Robert Clod, farmer of Barham (FAA23/9/108) are wonderful reminders of the history of our surnames.

Marriage licences were sometimes issued instead of reading banns and record an intent to marry rather than the actual marriage, it wasn’t the usual practice and the reasons for issuing a licence were:

  • the parties lived in different church jurisdictions, or were not marrying in their normal place of residence
  • if one of the parties was a minor (under 21 years old), or a widow
  • the parties wanted to marry promptly (some licences were issued as late as the day of the marriage), or
  • if the parties wanted to avoid the publicity of having banns read in church.

Marriage licences are a good source for family historians as they usually recorded the occupation of the groom.  The catalogue for marriage licences for the Archdeaconry of Suffolk (1663-1859) can be searched through using the reference FAA/23*.  The collection record includes lots more information about marriage licences.  FAA/23 also includes licences for people living in the northeast Waveney area.

We are working on listing the licences for the Archdeaconry of Sudbury so please contact the Bury branch if you have queries about entries for the West of the county.

Also shown here is a map of Barham including fields (HA93/12/78). The map shows field names, boundaries and individual trees on the boundary; it is dated a little later than Robert Clod’s intended marriage, but maybe he worked these same fields years before?

Extract from "A map of an estate in Hemingstone and Barham belonging to Mr. Edward Leedes", by J. Pennington, 1774 (HA93/12/78)

Extract from “A map of an estate in Hemingstone and Barham belonging to Mr. Edward Leedes”, by J. Pennington, 1774 (HA93/12/78)

This map is from the de Saumarez Family collection (HA93) which includes the family and estate papers from significant land holdings through Suffolk and beyond, including Shrubland Hall and Broke Hall. Within the collection are many maps and plans of local estates.

D is for Deer Parks

The first of Suffolk’s c130 medieval deer parks were probably developed by the Normans from c1086 to keep the Fallow deer they introduced from Europe from straying.  Deer parks were kept by the wealthy ecclesiastical and lay landowners e.g. the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds’ park at Semer.  The deer were bred and hunted or culled to provide meat for the lord’s table.  Hunting was only possible in the larger parks suchas the Bigods’ 600 acre park extending north from Framlingham Castle.  The deer were released from the smaller ones for the nobility to hunt across the surrounding open fields.

The park boundaries had to be substantial to keep the deer in and normally consisted of combinations of banks, with high hedges, fences, or pales on top and sometimes a ditch on the internal side depending on the nature of the land.  The boundary fence, ditch etc had gaps at intervals for entrance gates which may have had an associated lodge.  The main hunting lodge was usually more centrally located situated on a site with a good view over the surrounding park.  It was used as a residence for the park keeper and where the hunting parties could rest, dine or stay overnight.  Parks normally contained a mixture of coppiced woodland in which the deer could shelter (and that was also used for the production of timber for building, fuel etc) and more open woodland pasture for them to graze.  Staverton Park, also owned by the Bigods, is one of a few remaining medieval deer parks in Suffolk, where the original working landscape can still be seen.  Staverton was purchased by Sir Michael Stanhope, and  is shown in some detail in John Norden’s 1601 plans of Sir Michael’s estate.

Extract showing Staverton Park, taken from a survey of lands belonging to Sir Michael Stanhope by John Norden, 1600-1601 (V5/22/1)

Extract showing Staverton Park, taken from a survey of lands belonging to Sir Michael Stanhope by John Norden, 1600-1601 (V5/22/1)

The location of the medieval deer parks can be seen on early maps and understood from placenames.  By the early 16th century many of the medieval parks had been disimparked and the land brought under cultivation. Some of Suffolk’s parks that were later developed to provide an aesthetic natural landscape surrounding a country house developed directly out of an earlier deer park but many 17th-18th century parks were created from farmland.

Extract from survey map showing part of the Island of Lothingland, 1652 (295/1)

Extract from survey map showing part of the Island of Lothingland, 1652 (295/1)

Waller’s Raid, 13 January 1942

Snow was falling on Lowestoft on 13th January, 1942 when at 4.20pm in the afternoon the air raid sirens sounded the alert. Seven minutes later a lone Dornier Do 217, bearing the Holzammer (“Mallet”) insignia of Luftwaffe’s 9/KG.2 unit and piloted by Oberleutnant Ernst Walbaum, swept low over the town centre. Following the course of London Road North it dropped four high explosive bombs which fell into the shopping centre. The effect was devastating and in a few seconds a row of shops and buildings were reduced to rubble and many more were damaged by blast.

Twelve buildings, Nos. 86 to 108 on the east side of London Road were totally destroyed, and many more on the opposite of the road and in the immediate vicinity were badly damaged. Seventy-one people, civilians and service personnel alike, were killed and the body of one victim was never found. The shops and businesses hit and destroyed were Aldertons (Footwear) Ltd.; Morlings Music Shop; Trueform Boot Company Ltd.; J. Hepworth & Sons, Outfitters (with five apartments above in one of which was located the Dental Practice of Peter Walter Davis), Chipperfields Hardware Store in The Marina at the rear of No. 100, Fifty Shilling Tailors Ltd., Boots the Chemist and shopping arcade, W. B. Cooper, Ltd., China Dealer, Eve Brown Gowns, Bonsall’s the Jewellers, R. Waller & Sons restaurant and grocery.

Many of the victims that were killed were in Waller’s Restaurant at the time and this raid, the worst raid of the war, has entered into the annals of Lowestoft’s history as “The Waller’s Raid”.

Map of the damage caused by the Waller’s Raid

The ages of those killed ranged from two years to seventy years and some bodies were not recovered for over two days despite rescue teams working through the night under specially constructed arc-lamps.

Amongst the dead were Dorothy and Ernest Bonsall, proprietors of the jewellery shop and Ernest Morling, owner of the music shop. Ironically, Morling’s previous shop situated further north on London Road had been bombed out less than a year earlier, and his private house in Old Nelson Street, Lowestoft had also been bombed!

Other victims included Mrs. Emma Beard aged 52, her daughter, Edith Paul aged 27 and grandson, David Paul aged 2, who were in a shop (probably Eve Brown Gowns) buying mourning attire to wear at the funeral of Mrs. Beard’s husband who had died three days earlier. All four family members were buried together in Lowestoft cemetery six days later.

In Davis’ dental surgery above Hepworths at No. 102, Mr. Davis, aged 44, was himself killed together with 43 year old George Gayfer and his 24 years old son, Leslie Gayfer. Mr. Gayfer was employed there as a Dental Mechanic and his son was training to be the same. Also in the surgery and killed with them was a patient, 14 year old Ruby Copping of Lowestoft and a Dental Traveller, 50 year old Wilfred Wardill from Luton.

Alfred Ernest Slater, the 50 year old Manager of Fifty Shilling Tailors was also killed, but he died shielding the body of his 17 year old assistant, Beryl Bunn who was rescued with injuries to her legs. Mr. Slater was killed by the rubble and debris that fell on top of him.

Twenty of the seventy victims were service personnel. Seventeen from the Royal Navy (three of whom were WRNS) and three soldiers from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.

Among the WRNS who were killed was a local girl, Leading Wren Laura Beatrice Bessant,  the daughter of Robert and Florence of 263 Raglan Street. She was buried along side her Royal Navy colleagues in Lowestoft Cemetery on 19th January.

As well as those killed 116 people were injured, many seriously. Rescuers told the lightly injured to make their own way to the First Aid Post of The Royal Naval Patrol Service Headquarters, HMS EUROPA, in Sparrow’s Nest park half a mile or so to the north.

Three Lowestoft men, George Arthur Read, William Bernard Eade and Claude Edward Smith, part of No. 2 (North) Rescue Team, were later awarded the British Empire Medal for their “endurance and initiative” throughout the rescue operation over the next few days and nights.

Another hero was Private John Scott of the 7th Battalion (TA), The Border Regiment who was awarded the George Medal for “his conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner”.

In memoriam


Dora Elizabeth ALDRED Age 14 2 Princes Road, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, Daughter of Alfred F. & Alice Aldred.
Winifred Arabella BAKER Age 27 4 Gisleham Cottages, Carlton Colville Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant
Emma BEARD Age 52 8 Queens Road, Lowestoft Widow, Probably killed at No.94, Eve Brown Gowns
Dorothy Mary BONSALL Age 42 “Glenesk”, Beccles Road, Oulton Broad Both killed at No. 92 in their Jewellers Shop
Ernest BONSALL Age 63
Agnes Victoria BULLARD Age 40 20 Ipswich Road, Lowestoft Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s Restaurant
Agnes Joyce BUTCHER Age 15 183 St. Peter’s Street, Lowestoft Daughter of William & Ethel S. Butcher
Daisy Alice CONSTANCE Age 28 9 Coronation Terrace, Pakefield Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s Restaurant
Ruby Irene COPPING Age 24 173 London Road North, Lowestoft Dental patient, killed at No. 102 London Rd North
Dorothy Rose CRISPIN Age 35 1 Bixley Road, Lowestoft Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.- unmarried
Mary Emma CROSS Age 19 Council House, Flixton Nr. Lowestoft Waitress, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.
Percy Walter DAVIS Age 44 “Bramley”, Normanston Drive, Lowestoft Dentist, killed at No. 102 London Road North.
Megan Barbara EDMONDS Age 18 67 Lorne Park Road, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, Daughter of William & Gladys Edmonds
Lucy Lillian FLEMING Age 18 24 Nile Road, Gorleston Shop Assistant, daughter of William & Helen Fleming
Lucy Evelyn FREDERICK Age 48 15 StationRoad, Beccles. Catering Manager, killed at Waller’s Restaurant.
Laura Alice GALL Age 52 63 Corton Road, Lowestoft School Mistress, single
Maurice GARROD Age 17 Tintern House, Chapel Street, Lowestoft Radio Engineer, killed at Morlings, No. 106
George Birkwood GAYFER Age 43 74 Long Road Lowestoft Dental Mechanic, killed at No. 102 London Rd North
Leslie Birkwood GAYFER Age 14 Trainee Dental Mechanic, son of George Gayfer
Lilian Beatrice GEORGE Age 57 The Bungalows, London Road, Wangford Shop Assistant, probably killed at Hepworths No. 102
Oliver GOLDING Age 50 82 Lowestoft Road, Carlton Colville Shop Assistant, Killed at Waller’s Grocery, Nos 86/88.
Susie Dorothea HAMBLY Age 48 108, Clapham Road, Lowestoft Housewife, Wife of Bertie J. Hambly
Iris May HOOD Age 16 27 St. Margaret’s Plain, Lowestoft Typist, Daughter of Victor & Winifred Hood.
Doris Betty HOWE Age 17 6 Fir Lane, Lowestoft Cashier at Waller’s Restaurant (body never found)
Margery Gertrude KERRISON Age 38 “Pauline”, Long Lane, Corton Body not found. Killed at Waller’s.
Nora Kathleen LACON Age 47 Flat 2, Kingsley House, Lowestoft Chemist, killed at Morlings, No. 106 – unmarried
Edith Ruby LAMBERT Age 27 1 Compass Street, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, killed at Morlings, No.106 – unmarried
Ellen Eliza MILLS Age 67 303 Victoria Road, Oulton Broad Widow of George Mills.
Mildred Jenny MILLS Age 58 “West Leigh”, Kirkley Park Road Housewife, Wife of Arthur E. Mills.
Ethel May MOORE Age 23 123 Beccles Road, Oulton Broad Shop Assistant, – unmarried
Audrey May MORGAN Age 34 75 Beccles Road, Oulton Broad Wife of Robert Morgan, Pte K.O.S.B.
Ernest Jabez MORLING Age 70 45 Gunton Drive, Lowestoft Killed in his shop, No.106.
David Stephen PAUL Age 2 96 Somerton Avenue, Lowestoft killed at No. 94 with mother & grandmother
Edith Lucy PAUL Age 27 Mother of Paul, killed at No. 94 – married
Gertrude Annie PAYNTER Age 57 10 Delamere Road, Ealing Common Outfitter’s Agent, widow
Elsie Thelma PETHERICK Age 19 Lilac Cottage, Wenhaston Head Waitress, killed at Waller’s, unmarried
Emily Sarah PINKNEY Age 51 36 Sycamore Avenue, Oulton Broad Supervisor at Rist’s Wireless& Cables, widow.
John Armitage ROBERTSON Age 39 “Whitethorns”, Romany Road, O. B. Air Observer, killed at Waller’s
Alfred Ernest SLATER Age 46 78 Alexander Road, Lowestoft. Shop Manager, killed at Fifty Shilling Tailors, No. 100
Dorothy Elsie SNELLING Age 30 1 Hawes Place, Hall Road, Norwich Married woman. Wife of William G. Snelling.
Lillian, TALBOT Age 57 7 Corton Crossways, Lowestoft Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s, unmarried
Olive Rita THROWER Age 20 Sandy Lane, Gisleham Cook, killed at Waller’s, unmarried
Malvinia WARD Age 58 11 Colman Road, Corton Assistant Cook, killed at Waller’s, unmarried.
Wilfrid George WARDILL Age 50 16 Brantwood Road, Luton. Dental Traveller, killed at No. 102.
Beryl Joan WHITING Age 20 17 Fir Lane, Lowestoft Manageress, unmarried.
Muriel Evelyn Jean WHITLAM Age 20 8 Oakland Terrace, Kessingland Kitchen Hand, killed at Wallers, unmarried.
Elsie Harriet Doreen WINCUP Age 14 2 School Cottages, Carlton Colville Kitchen Hand, killed at Waller’s
Doris Louisa WOODMAN Age 32 15 Rowington Road, Norwich Married woman, wife of Francis N. Woodman.
Barbara Laura WRIGHT Age 16 16 Worthing Road, Lowestoft Shop Assistant, Killed at Morlings, No. 106.
Gladys May WRIGHT Age 26 55 Wollaston Road, Lowestoft Married woman, wife of Jack F. Wright, recently married.

Service Personnel

JOSEPH BAKER, Age 24, Paymaster Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Son of William John and Maud Annie Baker, of Alford.


LAURA BEATRICE BESSANT, Age 36, Leading Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service

Daughter of Robert F. Bessant and Florence C. Bessant, of 263 Raglan Street, Lowestoft.


GEORGE ROBERT BURWOOD, Skipper, Age 34, Royal Naval Reserve

Son of Isaac and Gertrude Burwood; husband of Alice Burwood, of Edinburgh.


IVY WINIFRED CREIGHTON, Age 32, Leading Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service

Daughter of Joseph Creighton and of Emily Elizabeth Creighton, of Staple, Kent


SAMUEL CUNNINGHAM, Age 18, Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Hugh and Rachel Cunningham, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.


ROBERT HARRY GRIFFITHS, Age 37, Leading Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Mrs. L. A. Griffiths, of Shepherds Bush, London.


JAMES NICHOLSON, Age 33, Assistant Cook, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Robert and Margery Nicholson, of Spittall, Berwick-on-Tweed; husband of Eleanor Elizabeth Nicholson.


RONALD GEORGE PENFOLD, Stoker 2nd Class, Royal Naval Patrol Service


FREDERICK WILLIAM PHILLIPS, Age 18, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Ernest Harold and Edith Alice Phillips, of Romford, Essex.


GEORGE SCOTT, Age 28, Stoker, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of William and Margaret Scott, of Leeds, Yorkshire; husband of Amelia Scott, of Leeds.


MARY MARGARET IRIS THOMPSON Wren, Women’s Royal Naval Service

Daughter of George Ritchie Thompson and Isabella Mary Thompson of Holt, Norfolk.


JOHN EDWARD URE, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of William Patrick and Kathleen Ure, of Leeds.


FREDERICK EDWIN WALKER, Age 38 Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy

Son of George Edwin and Mary Jane Walker; husband of Vera Alice Beatrice Walker, of Boscombe, Bournemouth.


ROBERT ALFRED CHARLES WARD, Age 28   Stoker, Royal Naval Reserve

Son of Alfred Smith Ward and Emily Ward, of Cardiff; husband of Jean Ward, of Ardrossan, Ayrshire.


JACK WATSON, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of John Edward and Nellie Watson, of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.


ALEXANDER WEST Leading Seaman, Age 36, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of James and Bessie West, of Gardenstown. Aberdeenshire.


CYRIL WILLIAMS, Age 19, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Naval Patrol Service

Son of Edward and Sarah Williams, of Cheadle Heath, Stockport.


 WILLIAM JOHN BUSBY, Age 24, Private, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment.

Son of George and Margaret E. Busby, of Yardley Wood, Birmingham.


ARTHUR GEORGE BROWN, Age 24, Lance Corporal, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Son of Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brown, of Bedford; husband of E. E. Brown.


FREDERICK WALTER PRATT, Age 20, Private, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment

Son of Walter Richard and Beatrice Annie Pratt, of Dunstable


George ‘Lupinseed’ Staunton

John Chapman, known to the world as ‘Johnny Appleseed’, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of the USA but have you heard of George ‘Lupinseed’ Staunton of Kessingland?

Kessingland was once marketed as Lupinland and it all came about because of this man.  It is said that his ‘obsession’ started when he was given two unusual lupins by the Rev John Cossham Vawdrey, and this planted the seed of an idea to turn the beach and dunes into a mass of colour.

Extract from the Ordnance Survey Map of 1927 showing Clare House
(Sheet 19/4)

He had noted that the lupins flourished in the sandy soil of his garden at Clare House, Kessingland and as his house was located on the beach it was a natural progression that they would thrive on the beach and dunes.  It is said that year after year ‘Lupinseed’ thrashed out the seed and sowed acres of the foreshore where he noted that the lupins helped to bind together the shifting sands and worked as a form of natural sea defence.  However apart from being practical they produced a brilliant scented display and for a while in the early 20th century visitors flocked to Lupinland to see the flowers.  As with all success stories there was a darker side for poor George as the visitors departed with armfuls of the beautiful flowers and it is said that ‘Lupinseed’ lost heart on seeing the destruction of ‘his’ flowers and gave up his annual sowing.

As to the man behind the story there is no trace of a George Staunton living in Kessingland on the census returns but Rev John Cossham Vawdry, who is credited with sparking the lupin ‘obsession’, was the Rector of Kessingland 1900-1909 so ‘Lupinseed’ had to be connected to the parish at some point between those dates. A George William Staunton is recorded in the 1909 Kelly’s Lowestoft Directory as living at The Beach (having arrived in the village sometime between 1904 and 1909) and is recorded at Clare House, The Beach between 1913 and Spring 1925.  It must have initially been a summer home as George William Staunton, a director of public companies, and his wife Cassandra are recorded in 1911 as resident at Clare Hall, Clare, Suffolk along with a governess, two daughters and three servants.

The Staunton surname and the name of Clare House disappear from the electoral registers after Spring 1925 but Clare House is still in evidence on the 1927 Ordnance Survey sheet. The couple however appear in 1939 living at Staunton Hall, Newark, Nottinghamshire with one son and three servants.  Along with a change of county George has had a change of occupation as in 1939 he is listed as a clergyman.

Lupins in bloom alongside the path at the edge of Kessingland beach, 1978

Articles published on George Staunton are scant in number but they all record that his house was later the home of Colonel Lancelot and Lady Violet Gregson. This couple appear for the first time in the electoral register of 1933/34 living at the White House having changed the name of Clare House.  Unfortunately, the house has not survived the ravages of the sea.  When fierce storms and high tides struck in January 1937 the house was in imminent danger of destruction and was put up for sale as it was no longer possible for the owners to rent out the house.  It was quickly purchased by William and Vera Sampson for just £40 on the condition that it was removed within six weeks and they set to and removed the White House piece by piece and rebuilt in Wash Lane, Kessingland.

The name however lingers on in Kessingland as it is now the site of the White House Beach Caravan Club, but the lupins proved to be a much hardier lot and today there are still masses of them at Kessingland making a wonderful colourful memorial to the man who loved them.

Thomas Le Heup

Exploring collections in Bury can often reveal fascinating and beautiful documents which tell interesting stories. One such document which would lead to a journey of discovery is a map located in our Hessett collection. Beautifully illustrated in striking colours, it depicts the land owned by a gentleman named Thomas Le Heup. Look carefully, and it will reveal tiny, illustrated details of trees, houses, and the Parish Church. Click here to see a video of the map.

Copinger reports that Hessett Hall passed from the Bacons, to the Walpoles, Aubrey Porter and then to his nephew John, who with others sold the manor and advowson to Thomas le Heup in 1724.

But who was Thomas Le Heup? He was born in St. Lo, Normandy, in about 1668 to John Le Heup and Suzanna. At the revocation of the edict of Nantes by Louis XIV, he became a Huguenot émigré and settled in St. Anne’s Westminster in London, being made a Denzien on 22nd June 1694. It is likely that he also travelled to the Netherlands around this time as there is a record of a marriage on 20th March 1696 in Amsterdam to Jenne Hamon.

Thomas Le Heup must have become quite an influential figure in London. Not only was he a merchant and financier but was also one of the first subscribers to the Bank of England and the South Sea Company. Elected in 1718, Thomas was one of the 39 original directors at the establishment of the French Protestant Hospital (La Providence) which was built to care for persecuted Huguenots and their descendants and according to his Last Will and Testament, he bequeathed “one hundred pounds to the French Hospital at London.”

With his wife Jeanne (daughter of Pierre Harmon of Caen) he had three children; Isaac, Michael, and Peter. All his children were successful in their own right and purchased real estate in Suffolk and Norfolk.  Isaac of Gunthorpe became an MP, being made first envoy to the Diet of Ratisbon, then to Sweden before being made Commander of Customs. Through his wife Elizabeth, he was connected to Horace Walpole who described him as, “a man of great wit and greater brutality.” Isaac’s links to Suffolk continued through his son Thomas who was admitted to Bury St. Edmunds King Edward VI Grammar in 1730.

It is Michael on whom Thomas settled the Hessett estate on his marriage to Elizabeth Gery in 1729 and his descendants remained at the manor of Hessett until it was destroyed by fire sometime before 1766. Thereafter, the Le Heup family can be found residing in Bury St. Edmunds.

Thomas Le Heup’s story ends in 1736 in the Parish Church of St. Ethelbert in Hessett where, in his will, he requested that his body “be buryed……in the Parish Church of Hessett in the same vault as wherein the body of my dear wife lays…”

Le Heup family memorial, St. Ethelbert Church in Hessett

Le Heup family memorial, St. Ethelbert Church in Hessett

Admission Register 1730-1827 (E5/9/606.3)
The Manors of Suffolk, Vol. 6 by W. A Copinger (BRO Local History Library)
Denizations & Naturalizations of Aliens in England & Ireland Pub Huguenot Society XVIII (Cullum Collection)
Proc. Of the Huguenot society of London Vol VII 1901-1904 (Cullum Collection)
Materials for the history of Hessett, by William Cooke 1877 (BRO Local History Library)

A Dot on the Landscape: Rymer Point

On the map of Suffolk Parish Boundaries you will see most parishes are rectangular. But north of Bury St. Edmunds, and south of Thetford in the Blackbourne Hundred the parish boundaries form a shape like the segments of an orange. The parishes of Barnham, Euston, Fakenham Magna, Honington, Troston, Great Livermere, Little Livermere (even though it is not part of the Hundred), Ampton, Ingham and Culford meet at Rymer Point.

Why these parishes converge here has been the subject of debate. Some clues can be found in HD1785/1/1, a collection of papers donated by Major Gilbert Kilner (1887-1960) of the Suffolk Regiment, which are held at our Bury St Edmunds branch. A keen historian and archaeologist, Major Kilner notes that in ‘A Suffolk Hundred in 1283’ by Powell the area of Rymer Point was 70 acres, large enough for a gathering of people and possibly the setting for a Hundred Court. King Edmund 1 (939-946) established areas, served by Hundred Courts where administration; formal and ceremonial functions were carried out. These Hundreds could be independent of parish and county boundaries, and the boundaries tended to move.

Ordnance Survey Map showing Rymer Point

Ordnance Survey Map showing Rymer Point

The Bradmere Hundred belonged to the Abbey at Bury St. Edmunds. Major Kilner recorded it as being absorbed into the Blackbourn Hundred in the Domesday Book. The Hundred was bordered by the Little Ouse to the North, Icknield Way and the Lackford Hundred on the West, the River Lark to the South, and the Blything to the East.
The seats of the Hundred Courts were held at prominent places such as meres, river crossings, mounds or high points. Rymer Point is about ¾ mile East of Gibbert Covert, one of the highest points and the site of a gallows.
However, Troston Mount has been considered the meeting place of the Hundred. It is possible that once both Rymer Point and Troston Mount were Hundred Courts for the Bradmere and Blackbourne Hundreds before they were combined in Medieval times.

Some clues can also be taken from the derivation of the name. ‘Rym’ or ‘Rim’ is Anglo-Saxon for ‘edge’. ‘Mer’ means ‘mark’. Alternatively the ending ‘mer’ may be a shortening for mere. Major Kilner suggests there was once a large mere at Rymer Point. This area was some distance from flowing water and sheep farmed on the Brecklands may have been brought to water there. Further South near Troston Mount there was a large stretch of water called Broadmere, also a useful watering hole.
Rymer Point is on the A134 from Bury St. Edmund to Thetford. Major Kilner believed there was a link road between the ancient trackways of Peddars Way and Icknield Way. Peddars Way comes from the N.W corner of Norfolk and can be traced to Brettenham and on to Woolpit. The Icknield Way comes from Great Chesterford and crosses the river Lark at Lackford.  So Rymer Point could also have been significant as a passing and therefore a meeting place.

Downey Bekke: Mariner and Alien

In the name of God Amen the viith day of the monyth of September in the yere of oure Lord God anno MCCCCC xxviiith. I Downy Bekke of Easton Bavent mariner beyng hoole of mynde and in good remembrance make my testament and last will in maner and forme following…’

So begins the will of Downey Bekke of 1528 (IC/AA2/10/41), much like any will and testament made in the first half of the sixteenth century. He made arrangements for his burial in the church at Easton Bavents and for his executor to pay his ‘tithes and oblaciones negligently forgotten’. He bequeathed £22 from the sale of his half of a ship, the Mary and John, to the local church for a silver an gilt cross, 40s to the church of St Edmund in Southwold for reparations, and money for a trentall to be said by the friars in Dunwich after his death.  He also leaves another boat, the Blythe, to Joan Thomas, and much else besides to his son, Davy Bekke. The picture that the will paints is of a relatively wealthy mariner and fisher, with strong devotion to both religious and civic piety. Recent research in the alien and Tudor subsidies of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by the University of York has also revealed that Downey Bekke, among thousands of others throughout England and Wales, was a resident alien.

There are over a thousand records of aliens living in late medieval and Tudor Suffolk, with some some interesting and exotic examples; there were two Aragonese doctors living in Long Melford in 1483, and an Icelandic shearman, Elgat Thorbor, in Nayland in 1524. In 1483, two Flemish craftsmen, Anthony Lammoson and Henry Phelypp, a painter and a sculptor respectively, were also living in Long Melford, almost certainly working for Sir John Clopton who had financed the building of the new church there. There were eleven Dutch clothmakers living in Bildeston. Though the survival of the subsidy returns is sporadic, Suffolk reports a higher number of returns overall than its surrounding counties of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk, widely asserted to have been the home of many more immigrants, given their advanced status.

To find out more about the project and to search the database, go to the England’s Immigrants website and to read the Suffolk county study.

Dispersal of Immigrants in Suffolk from information on the England’s Immigrants website

A Tale of Two Hoaxes

If you are going to pull a hoax what better place than a public house to be the operation headquarters. It seems from the following hoaxes that the alcohol intake at the Lord Nelson in Southwold and The Bell of St Olaves definitely inspired brilliance.

Exterior of the Lord Nelson public house, East Street, Southwold, 1970 (1176/1/13/1/2/9)

The first of these hoaxes started at the Lord Nelson in 1983 in response to a customer remarking that he had missed the last bus home only to be told by one of the regulars that he could always catch the last underground train from East Street!  And from a passing jest the East Suffolk Underground Railway came into existence. The regulars at the pub took up the idea and ran with it and proceeded to put flesh on to this wonderful tale and before you knew it timetables were drawn up, maps of the system were drawn and it was even possible to buy special tickets to mark the centenary of the underground; but they didn’t stop there.  T-shirts bearing a map of the system went on sale and a traditional folk song all appeared to mark the centenary.  Unfortunately we do not hold any of this ‘centennial memorabilia’ but we would love to hear from you if you have any relevant items relating to this hoax.

One wonders just how many pints it took to be this inspired…..

……and did they drink more or less than the regulars at The Bell of St Olaves who invented in the winter of 1962 the game of ‘nurdling’ and passed it off as a traditional pastime/game/sport.

It is said that after a ‘few jars’ talk in the bar of The Bell drifted to spoofing visitors and they set to drawing up the rules of nurdling. To give it an air of authenticity Harold Jenner, the then landlord of the pub, made a mock papyrus from Norfolk reed setting out ‘in an ancient fashion’ the rules of what they referred to as an ‘age-old’ game.  The papyrus was duly hung in the bar and the regulars sat back to wait to see how long it would be before an unwary holidaymaker took the bait.

The moment an innocent ‘foreigner’ showed the slightest interest in this ancient game the regulars sprang in to action elaborating on the joys of nurdling and kept up the charade until the ‘victim’ was positively begging to be allowed to take part in this ancient rite.

General view of the street looking from the bridge and showing the Bell public house, c1910

It was at this point the ‘victim’ should have ran as fast as his or her legs could carry them as the next step was to get the ‘victim’ dressed up in a smock, gaiters, hat and holding a nurdling pole [described as a birch stick festooned with coypu fur, bottles, and various other embellishments]. The next step was an elaborate initiation ceremony in the bar of chanting and the lighting of candles on the end of the nurdling pole and then and only then was the ‘victim’ ready to experience the world of nurdling!  It could only have been one massive let down as the ‘victim’ was instructed to burst through a door into the world of nurdling only to find him/herself outside the pub, the ‘victim’ of a massive hoax and the butt of the regulars’ elaborate practical joke.  One nurdler stated in an interview with the local press “We are only following what it says in the Bible – ‘He was a stranger and we took him in’”

The moral of this tale is to be VERY cautious of local traditions when entering East Anglian pubs because they may be beer induced!

The Bell of St Olaves actually has a second claim to fame, much more serious than nurdling, and that is that it claims to be the oldest public house on the Broads with parts of the building dating from around 1520.